Tiny houses: Conservatives are three years too late

Tito MunozBy Tito A. Munoz
Guest Post

I read an article on my wife’s Facebook page about county officials in Chesterfield, Virginia, forcing a couple out of their Dream Home (see Chesterfield couple being forced out of tiny dream home).

Conservatives get mad when they hear that government intrusion and regulations deny or force people off their property.

We have the well-publicized and broadly supported case of Liberty Farm. Many politicians took hold of this issue quickly and enthusiastically and rallied in support of farm rights as an important property rights battle. Some just used it as a political platform to campaign.

Thankfully, something truly positive came from the Liberty Farm issue as legislation in support of property rights passed by the Virginia House of Delegates. But, the issue successfully defended in that case has not been given proper attention on small property rights issues that are equally important.

Tiny houseUnfortunately for this Chesterfield couple, conservatives are three years too late and some “conservatives” still fight in favor of local government regulations that enable the environment for this apparent travesty to occur (see Tito Munoz: PWC’s Corey Stewart unfit for LG).

In 2011 many homeowners had problems, after a flood in Prince William County, regarding Construction Code, Zoning, and local government intrusion at Holly Acres Home Park.

During the flood, many manufactured homes had minimal damage. In spite of the FEMA Standards, Virginia Construction Codes, and the Zoning Board’s ruling in favor of the homeowners, the county blocked these families from fixing and returning to their homes.

The couple who had this local problem in Chesterfield is similar to the families of Holly Acres. Local and VA Codes should give this couple and other families the ability to build under the Manufactured Housing Standard.

The question is why the local governments would oppose the construction of tiny homes or mobile home parks. Maybe it is because tax revenue will decline, maybe builders will make less, maybe the banks will have less people in debt, maybe because manufactured mobile homes will have more competition, etc. There are financial interests of others that might override the true property rights this couple seeks to defend.

Building Codes are to protect life and property, not to regulate peoples’ lives or property. Unfortunately, many who call themselves Conservative have chosen the side of the PW County government and other similar local governments to regulate some people out from our communities.

Some politicians in Prince William County talk about limiting construction based on the value of the homes because they argue these small homeowners do not pay enough taxes to the local government. They want homeowners whose property value will generate greater tax revenue. This means building homes for the rich only. Others oppose more construction because they fear a growth of minority voters in the county from these smaller homes. They assume these prospective home owners will not vote conservative.

Fewer regulations will give families many choices to make their home ownership dream a reality. How can we as citizens fight the growth of regulations? Conservatives need to go to the VA Board of Housing and Community Development meetings because that is where these regulations start. As a Board member from 2010 to 2014, I hoped for conservatives to be active but they were always absent when citizen comment was encouraged. We need conservatives there to counter the Sierra Club and other liberal lobbies.

Virginia Construction CodeEvery four years the Virginia Codes are amended and some new regulations get introduced, but a regulation almost never gets removed. This is something that we need to take seriously if we want to limit government control of our property. The environmental lobbies are there at every meeting pushing for more regulations on our properties. This includes the creation of a new Energy and Conservation Code which will introduce regulations on insulation, thickness of walls, water heaters, air conditioners, air tightness test, window tinting, energy efficient appliances, and the list goes on and on.

The regulations regarding Manufactured Homes are from 1974 and do not reflect the current needs of homeowners. The hyper-regulation protected by the manufacturers amounts to Crony Capitalism. There is no reason why independent builders and individuals should not be able to construct to the same standards as the manufacturers and those standards need to be updated now. The local governments should be more active to give people that choice. We are long past 1974.

I hope this will be a wake up call for conservatives to fight Little Big Governments and the use of State Codes to control your way of life. Standing up for the Tiny Houses is protecting Liberty.

—–
Tito Munoz is a Republican business owner who lives with his wife in Prince William County, Virginia, and is familiar for passionately stating, “I was born in Colombia, but I was MADE in the USA!” He served as the 11th District representative on the VA Board of Housing and Community Development from 2010-2014, appointed by Governor Bob McDonnell.

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